Having been uprooted from Colony Number 5, residents who were not eligible for houses at the newly-constructed rehabilitation colony at Dhanas are settling in different sectors of the city as well as adjoining areas. Some have even taken houses on rent in the villages and colonies in the city, others have found shelter in Mohali bordering Chandigarh.
More than 5,000 families from the colony were eligible for houses under the rehabilitation scheme. Those families were not entitled for rehabilitation. A section of these people had made alternate arrangements when the move to raze the colony was started.
The colonies and villages are swarming with people who are looking for affordable accommodation.
Few families have shifted to areas like Jagatpura in Mohali district making the residents in these areas wary of fresh encroachments would now take place here. A resident of Jagatpura said that many people are regularly coming here with their belongings . He added that while they have been paying rent as well as electricity and water charges, there is apprehension that those who are shifting here now would encroach upon the land. Keeping in view the spurt of migrants, the Mohali Police has set up barriers along the border with Chandigarh to avoid them from settling there.
Meanwhile, the process of taking possession of tenements at Dhanas continued. There was a scramble to get allotment letters, electricity connections and water supply. Water was not reaching the upper storeys due to damage to a pipeline. Bus service to and from Dhanas to Colony Number 5 has been started to facilitate those shifting. Facilities for ensuring continuation of education of the children have also been started.
BJP leaders clash outside Burail
The rift within the Chandigarh unit of the BJP over the demolition of Colony Number 5 deepened further with party president and a former president sparring outside Burail Jail where senior BJP leader Harmohan Dhawan is lodged. Dhawan was arrested two days back after he held a protest against the demolition of Colony Number 5.
A group of BJP leaders including former president Dharam Pal Gupta went to meet Dhawan in the jail on Friday. When they were not allowed to meet Dhawan, they decided to sit outside and protest. By afternoon, a decision was taken to release Dhawan. Thereafter, when the party president Sanjay Tandon came to Burail Jail, other BJP leaders objected and heated arguments ensued.
Gupta asked Tandon to return saying when he was not with them since morning, there was no need of him now. Gupta added that the BJP workers will manage the party on their own. An agitated Tandon argued that they had no idea about the efforts he had made.
A senior party leader said that when party leaders were being arrested, the party president was submitting a memorandum instead of extending his support. When the Prime Minister was in Chandigarh to handover keys of houses under rehabilitation scheme to beneficiaries, several BJP leaders were arrested, but no agitation was done by the party president.
The BJP president was absent from the scene when Dhawan held a protest with his supporters. Dhawan was arrested and sent to Burail Jail. As the demolition drive ended on Friday, orders for his release were issued. It is not the first time that there have been protests against Tandon. Earlier this year, party leaders and workers held a protest outside the BJP office against him. Several leaders were also issued showcause notices then.
Meanwhile, Tandon said, “Dharampal’s behaviour was obnoxious behaviour. He had no right to behave in this manner. He reacted without knowing anything. The party will take this issue seriously and the incident has been conveyed to senior party leaders.” He added that he met Dhawan a day earlier in jail and also had a word with officials for his release. It was already conveyed to him that Dhawan would be released on Friday.
‘It took me yrs to build that house, where do I go now?’
Sameedul, 85, built a hutment at Colony Number 5 some 30 years ago. Now, after three decades, she has nowhere to go. She along with hundred others have been left homeless after the demolition drive.
“Agar ek punya nahi kar sakte, to bura bhi mat karo mere saath,” (If you cannot help me during my difficult times, at least do not trouble me more) she said. “I earn a livlihood by selling cosmetics. My earning is Rs 20-30 per day. After my husband’s death it became very difficult for me to raise my children alone.”
“My entire life I faced a lot of difficulties, now I dont have the strength to fight anymore. It took me years to build that house and they demolished it in front of my eyes withing seconds. Where will I go now?” she said, adding, now I am forced to live on the road with my children in this cold weather.
She added, “My husband died decades ago, but these officials want my husband to be present in person to allot me a house. I am living here from last 20 years but the officers won’t allot me a house. Can’t they allot a house to a women?” Where thousands are on road, education has taken a back seat. Suraj, a student of Class VIII has not gone to school for the past few days. The worst part, he isn’t even sure if he will continue with his studies or not.
“The officiers did not even give us time to collect our belongings. I screamed and pleaded him to let me collect my things, but they bulldozed everything,” said Seeta.
When asked that a notice was given to them, she said, “We are illiterate people. There was a news that demolition will take place, but most of us did not know when. The administration did not make any announcement.”
Though, thousands are left homeless, there were others too who were lucky enough to get new houses made by the administration for them. “I got a new house, it is much better than where I lived. However, there is water and electricity problem,” said Alok.
CHB to build over 5,000 2-room flats at Maloya
Chandigarh Housing Board would be constructing more than 5,000 two room flats at Maloya under the rehabilitation scheme. The tender was approved in a meeting of the Board of Directors of CHB on Friday. While one-room tenements had been constructed till now under the rehabilitation scheme, there was a demand of two room flats.
The meeting was held under the chairmanship of CHB Chairman Satya Gopal. The area of the flats would be 60 sq yards more than the existing tenements. CHB has allotted one room tenements to migrants at several places in the city. When the keys of the tenements at Sector 49 were handed over by Union Minister Kumari Selja around two years ago, she had said instead of one room, two room flats should be given.
Following this, a new design for two-room flats was prepared. The Board of Directors allotted the tender on Friday. Construction would start soon.
The slum rehabilitation scheme is being undertaken with funds under the JNURM.
The Chandigarh Housing Board is the nodal agency that undertakes construction of the houses. The beneficiaries are required to pay rent to CHB for the tenements that have been allotted to them for a period of 20 years. A proposal is on the anvil for providing them with ownership rights.